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Improved archaeology provisions reinforced

Improved archaeology provisions reinforce protection

An improved archaeological consents process will strengthen the identification and protection of archaeological sites and ensure Maori concerns are appropriately addressed, says the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT).

Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Christopher Finlayson announced the changes as part of a wider review of the Historic Places Act (1993) recently (subs: 13 July). As well as a streamlined application process with shorter timeframes, the NZHPT’s Maori Heritage Council will be involved in all applications relating to sites of interest to Maori.

NZHPT Senior Archaeologist Dr Rick McGovern-Wilson said it was important to reinforce the Minister’s message that the level of protection for archaeological sites would remain the same. Since 2001 there had been almost a four-fold increase in archaeological authorities NZHPT processed, with 445 in the past year to 1 July.

“Under the Historic Places Act, anyone wishing to destroy, damage, modify or investigate an archaeological site must apply to NZHPT for an archaeological authority to do so,” Dr McGovern-Wilson said.

“We are processing much bigger numbers each year which is encouraging. It means that property owners and developers are more aware of their legal and cultural obligations.

“A streamlined process with greater consideration of Maori views will not only benefit property owners and developers in terms of time and cost but ensure consultation with tangata whenua continues appropriately.”

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Dr McGovern-Wilson said the review also allowed archaeological authorities to be attached to the land; with transfer possible between owners should the land be sold, as is the case with resource consents. Proposals that would have minimal effect on a site can seek to have an assessment carried out based on information supplied by the applicant to an NZHPT Regional Archaeologist, rather than requiring an applicant to incur costs through hiring a consultant archaeologist.

A bill incorporating these changes is expected to be introduced into Parliament later this year.

ENDS

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